Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tough to Hear, Tough to Decide

Most days in life with a toddler pass on by.  The school days, the park days, the good and bad days.  No big milestones, just getting better at the little things, or just melting down over the little things (us and him).

Today we went to the parent/teacher conference.  His teacher and his special ed helper were there. 

Noah has come such a long way this school year.  He loves going to school, he loves to see his friends and kind of play with them.  His communication, while still pretty behind, has improved so much.  He understands how to follow what the group is doing.  He shares well.  His teachers said one day he even gave her a big hug and said "so sorry". 

But, both ladies feel like he'd do better in a special needs class/school next year than the regular one at the preschool he's in now.  That class would have eight special needs kids and four normal kids.  There would be three teachers in the room and Noah would get lots of help and attention.  They were nice and said he could be a leader in that classroom instead of probably struggling a little in the school he's in now. He would go M-F 9 to 12 instead of just M-Th. 

It's amazing to us just how much his lack of communication affects so many other things. 

The school they recommend is where he goes once a week for his speech therapy.  While he's in therapy, I sit and just take in what's going on.  He gets there the same time the afternoon classes get there.  My impression is the kids are good kids, a few are physically handicapped, I think most have sensory or language or behavioral issues.  The staff seem overwhelmed by paperwork and procedures, but are always great with the kids. I think there are maybe three classrooms and it has a great playground we've gone to on some weekends. 

His teachers this year, and his special ed helper, have been really wonderful working with him.  For the past two or three months they've pretty much had one of the teachers handle him one on one when he needs it.  His teacher explained that in the class next year, that probably wouldn't be possible. 

They also really emphasized that getting him all of this help next year will move him closer to needing help less in the future - early intervention and all.  And we are so grateful to even have these choices. 

It's just a little hard for us to put our heads around it all.  Until this morning, Ching and I have never thought of Noah as "special needs".  Noah is such a smart kid.  We usually attribute his off times at school as being immature.  But it's also stemming from his communication limitations.  He gets frustrated.  We know here at home that impulse control is not his strong suit yet.  We just never know where it falls in comparison to other kids. 

This year he's had two main problems (other than a short attention span) one is he loves to throw things, and when he does, of course it sometimes hits the other kids, and he's had trouble pushing kids, because he wants to get their attention and that's the fastest way.  These actions have the unfortunate side affect of other kids thinking he's not being nice sometimes. If that continued next year, it would be a little worse for him.  He has a hard enough time with classmates due to his limited ability to talk with them. 

We're glad there would be normal kids in his special needs class.  We can't help be wonder how the other kids will influence him.  But really, I sometimes think that he has such a sweet heart, it'll all work out. 

It's all also a little funny, because if Noah didn't love being around other kids so much, he wouldn't have been in preschool at all. 

The choice is ours on which school to send him to.  But I think we know which way we have to go.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Noah At The Park

We've been lucky that the last two Saturdays have been nice, spring-like days.  The rest of the days, not so much.  Ugh.  This winter has been the worst.

Anyway.  Those few, few days of warmth have renewed Noah's insistence on park time.  He wants to go to the park twice a day, every day.  It's 40 outside this evening, and poor Ching still had to take him to the park. 

The sweetest thing Noah does at the park is at the big slide.  There's a really big slide at one of the parks we go to.  Several trips ago, Ching started saying "one, two, three GO" for him and the other kids.  Yesterday, a couple of times when other kids were at the top of the slide, Noah would stand at the bottom and say "one, two, three GO" and when they slide down he'd clap and say "good job!!" 

We've learned to keep a ball in the car for him to throw and kick.  He'll find any Dad/Granddad there and say "Catch" (which they don't usually hear) and then throw or kick the ball at them.  Heh.  (One of these days we'll find a cool Dad to hang out with Noah.) 

The downside to Noah at the park is that no matter which park we go to, he tends to wander off from the actual playground area into the water, or mud, or the walking trail.  Seriously?  Playgrounds just can't contain him! 

Once school is out, I'm going to get Noah a week or two of swim lessons - ok, play in the water without crying or dying lessons.  And might look for an indoor soccer program or something.  But mostly, we'll be at the parks.  Probably even twice a day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Is Noah Bored?

This post might ramble a little because I'm finding it hard to know where to start.  I've been mulling all of this over for a few days, and it seems Ching and I talk about it all the time.

Just over a year ago, Ching and I were not planning on sending Noah to pre-school.  She and I were both lucky enough to stay at home with moms or grandparents until kindergarten.  Plus, Noah didn't really seem like the right kind of kid for pre-school.  Then, he developed his love of other kids, and had his speech delay, and pre-school seemed like a good idea. 

He's had a mix of speech/development therapists and they've remarked on his short attention span when it comes to staying on task with things like books and specific activities.  I've always kind of thought - well, he has no interest in those things at his young age, why would he pay attention.  If he didn't have a speech delay, no one would be worried about his attention span, because he'd just be outside playing.

Ching and I often wonder just how smart our boy is.  Again, his speech delay makes it hard sometimes.  But, by 2 1/2 he had learned the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors just by watching videos of trains carrying these things.  And like most kids, he has an amazing memory. 

He started off doing pretty well in pre-school.  He's always happy to get up and go to school and see is friends and play with them.  We do think it's helped his speech along. 

In the past month or so though, he's started playing more rough, pushing the kids, and having a harder time staying on task. 

Yes, part of this is the stupid, stupid weather we've had and all the days of school we've missed and all the time stuck in the house.  There have been a few warm days, and since then he's wanted to be outside all the time. 

But here's where I think he's bored.  He is not a kid that's into pre-school activities.  He has no interest in arts and crafts or story time.  And I think he's also lost interest in the activities he really enjoyed for a while - such as playing in the pretend kitchen.  (That's why we never bought him a kitchen to play with at home, so he wouldn't get burned out.) 

Now, I admit I'm pretty biased against schools.  I am not convinced they are good places for little boys in particular.  Yes, they have playground time, weather permitting, but so much of the activities are basically sitting/standing at a table and doing something.  I do know they try to vary things.  Noah just wants to run and run and play and run. 

The purpose of pre-school is to get kids ready for school.  But he's 3 1/2 and if he didn't love kids wouldn't be in school at all.  So, part of me keeps resisting making him do school activities at home for practice. 

Is 3 1/2 y/o behavior a really good indicator of 5 y/o behavior?  I don't really know. 

I also wonder if they perceive his behavior one way because he's been defined as speech and development delayed.  Could it be he's one of those kids who's smart and bored?  We don't know.  Do 3 1/2 y/o get bored like that?

I don't know.  I don't know how to make sense of all of this.  The counter argument to so much of what I think is that there are kids his age who do all of this just fine.  And we just don't really have a good gauge for what's normal, yet I also find I don't always trust the people defining normal.  If you're in the education field, well, you tend to see everything as being fixed by education. (Do NOT get me started on ADHD and it's rise in it's diagnosis.) 

I'm sure there will be more to write on this as it comes up.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Creepy

There have been a dozen or more times in Noah's life when we knew he was looking at/talking to someone we couldn't see.  Ching thinks of ghosts.  I think of guardian angels. 

About a week ago he started something new.  Noah and Ching were in the kitchen doing his pre-bed cereal snack.  He looked over toward the wall and said, "the baby is sad, the baby is crying, I see it."  Um what??  Then he went on and finished his cereal and went to bed. 

A couple of days later, he and I were in his room playing with his toys and he looked over towards a wall and his changing table and said, "the baby is taking a bath."  Huh?  At least it wasn't crying.

Then last night, again at pre-bed cereal time,  he once again said "the baby is sad, the baby is crying, I see it."  So, Ching asked if he could tell the baby it's ok - because anytime he sees a kid crying he'll go and pat them on the arm and so "ok, ok".  But he said, "no."  I told Ching I wasn't sure it wouldn't have been more creepy if he'd actually told the baby it was ok. 

Our least creepy guess is that there's some baby in one of the cartoons he's seen.  But we can't think of one. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Little Things

Noah has never been to Chuck E Cheese. As far as we know, he's never even seen a commercial. But when we pulled up today, he saw Mr Chuck and said "cheese!!" Huh?  We went yesterday to play with one of his classmates, but he spent over half the time in a play car that had a big Chuck E Cheese in the passenger seat.  When he hugs us he says "sweet" because that's what we say to him.  So he hugged on Mr. Chuck and said "sweet".  It was cute and weird at the same time.

Then last night we had one of those drink trays from McDs and a plastic cup in it.  He also had a little cleaning cloth.  He was going around the kitchen saying "cooking" and then would bring us the tray and have us "drink it, try it" and then would clean up!  We've got a little chef/waiter on our hands! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Winter of Winters

Winter of our discontent just seemed too cliche and not all that accurate.

It definitely has been a long, cold, snow-filled winter.  The crazy thing is, back in the summer, I would tell Ching I was pretty sure it was going to be a long, cold, snow-filled winter.  And yet, that knowledge in no way, shape or form prepared me for it being just that.  Crazy.  Back before this winter, we talked about how Texas summers would be a big factor in deciding to move back there if the chance ever presented itself.  After this winter, maybe not so much.  Being stuck indoors and missing all these school days, well, hot summers don't sound as bad.

I find as time goes by it gets a little harder to write updates about Noah.  There aren't big milestones being passed.  There aren't growth spurts.  There's just every day life and little changes over time.  Let's see if I can maybe sum him up a little.

Typical Noah days...

He generally wakes up about 7:30 in the morning.  The days he sleeps a little later, maybe until 8, aren't the weekends, oh no, they're school days.  He wakes up happy and pretty ready to go.  He still calls out "HI" until one of us goes up there to get him.  When I get up there, he'll hand me the car or two he had in bed with him and then say "up, please" so I'll get him out of the crib.

He's still sleeping in his crib partly because he likes it, and partly because it's just easier.  We don't think he's quite mature enough for a big boy bed.  He wouldn't be able to get out of his room if he didn't want to be in bed, but he might get up and play all night if he could.

He still really enjoys going to school and seeing his friends there.  His special ed lady is working with him on being able to say his class mates names.  He still doesn't like to color or do crafts and that's ok with us.  At school when they get to play he spends a lot of time in the kitchen talking about food, and a lot of time with the cars.  We're sort of trying to involve him a little more in the kitchen at home, but it's slow going.  I have a feeling in a year he'll be a pro in the kitchen!

Because we've been indoors a lot this winter, he's still got his favorite shows and cartoons.  He still loves Curious George and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  He'll watch a ton of old Chip n Dale/Daffy Duck cartoons on you.tube.  He'll watch really old Mickey Mouse cartoons and a little but of Dumbo on Netflix.

He's learned a little bit of bargaining.  I'd tell him, "okay, one more George and then nap time." and he's starting saying "one more George" or "one more Jake" before doing something.  What's cool is he's content with really just watching one more and doesn't try to bargain for more.  We're sure he will try for more one day!

He's still just a really cute boy who is very sweet and mostly good.  When he's not good asking him if he wants to go to his room generally gets him to be better.  Every once in a while we actually have to put him in his room for a few minutes.  Also, threatening and actually tickling him works as a good motivator when it comes to getting him to get into his room and get ready for his nap or bath time.  That's pretty funny.

There's a lot I could write about how he loves to boss Ching around, but I'll save that for another time.

Friday, January 24, 2014

I've been thinking lately that I don't know how to be a Christian.

My parents joined a church when I was five, and they still attend that church.  I think I've attended church more years of my life than not.  I've probably read the Bible through two or three times.  I'm pretty well versed in theology. 

But I had a thought a few weeks ago that really shook me.

If no one knows you're a Christian unless you tell them, are you doing it right?

I've been reading the Gospels during this time.  Yes, Jesus hung out with tax collectors and sinners.  But His message was pretty tough.  He talks about plucking out your eye, or cutting off your foot or hand if it causes you to stumble - because it's better to be lame than in hell.  Heck, I'm not even good at turning off tv shows.

Every time it mentions Him healing the sick and casting out demons, it starts by saying He had compassion on them.  Also, there were lots of people with demons in those days - wonder if it's still true today and if so how would we know? One other interesting thing about the demons - they all knew exactly who Jesus was and why He was here - not even the disciples really understood that until later. 

Anyway.  Jesus was a radical with a strong message to any who wanted to follow Him.  The disciples tend to make me laugh.  I'm sure Jesus did lots of eye rolls in their direction.  I think there could be a great comedy movie in there somewhere.

Things I think I kinda get right.  I'm a pretty empathetic/compassionate person.  I try very hard to listen to that "still small voice" that I believe is God talking to us, and act on what I hear.  And I'm amazingly grateful - for my life, for nature, for trees and birds and sunsets and all the small things.  I also try very hard to be nice to strangers when out and about.  I smile at people walking by, things like that.  I often hope it can be that small thing that makes a difference. 

But I get caught in this notion that being a Christian is this complete devotion and surrender, every moment, every day.  And one of my all time favorite books in being a Christian, The Christian Secret of a Happy Life, teaches about our responsibility and God's responsibility in our lives/faith.  Our job is simply to have faith, and God's is to do the action part.  But even that seems hard sometimes.

I often think about being a "good steward" in the small things - you know, home and family.  And boy do those seem to be full of land mines.  My inclination toward depression and impatience make this hard.  If I can't be a Christian at home, how can I anywhere else?  If I can't serve Noah and Ching...  (Although today I was thinking about how much time I spend literally serving Noah snacks all day and hoped that counts!)

C. S. Lewis has some great writings about the very subtle sins that crop up in family life.  I haven't read it in over 20 years, but the basic message sticks with me.  He also wrote great stuff about "love your neighbor as yourself" and just how much and in what ways we love ourselves - part of which is always giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt in our motivations.  Do I do that for others?  It's hard.

I don't know.  I don't know why all of this is on my mind so much.